What does the bus say?

I have been living in a new city for the last few months. I commute to work in the bus. I have always been a sucker for public transportation. The Delhi Metro holds a special place in my heart. Autos are my favourite mode of transportation in metropolitan cities. And for a people-watcher like me, public transport is like a human zoo.

Public transport has this enchanting effect on me regardless of how chaotic or silent the ride is. Often I zone out and go for a stroll in my favourite hangout spot – the inside of my head.

One of these mental strolls led me down the path of extracting life lessons from my daily bus ride.

At the risk of sounding like a LinkedIn influencer, here are some life lessons that I drew from my experience of travelling in the local buses of Kolkata –

  1. Opportunities will keep knocking at your doorstep. Do not be disheartened if you miss one. In the immortal words of Sharry Mann - “Yaaron aaundiya hi rehangiya kudiyan te bussan”. (Friends, girls and buses will keep coming, one following the other)
  2. Bus helps those who help themselves. No bus will provide you a door-to-door service. You have to walk a little to the nearest bus stop. So put in the effort to get the ball rolling, the bus will take care of the rest.
  3. Learn to minimise your losses. Often times you won’t get the bus for your exact destination. But look around and you’ll find a bus that’ll take you to a stop near your destination. It is your job to recognise this and minimise your losses.
  4. Learn to estimate the impact of external variables. The buses don’t run exactly on schedule (except in Switzerland). So no matter how precisely you plan your actions, your success depends on a lot of things going right for the bus (even in Switzerland).
  5. Success is not your birth right. Finding a seat in the bus is hard. Even if you do find one, someone else might take it from you – rightfully or otherwise. And it’s okay. Learning to balance yourself while standing in a moving bus is a joy of its own. Forego short-term comforts for long-term success.
  6. Sometimes the wrong bus can take you to the right destination. Serendipity is a marvellous thing. Good things usually come in without knocking at the door.
  7. Other times the right bus can break down in the middle of the journey. Life is not always smooth sailing. Even if you do everything right, there is always a non-zero probability of things going sideways. Stay robust.
  8. Ask and you will be helped. If you’re in a new place, how can you find out which bus will take you to your destination? All you have to do is ask.

I shared these ’lessons’ with a senior colleague / mentor a while ago and she tied it up wonderfully with – “All of these tell you to embrace uncertainty.”


Remember that word. If you have engaged in “discourse” with me in the last few years, chances are that I have talked to you about entropy.

Entropy is my religion. My drug. My saviour. It explains the universe to me like nothing else does.

The simplest description of entropy is that it describes the randomness in a complex system – the universe for example. The universe we inhabit is entropic. Remember Brownian motion from middle-school science? Gas molecules move about and collide at random? That’s entropy.

Everything that has ever happened, is currently happening, or will happen, in the universe, is a product of entropy.1

Humans are just incredibly good at building narratives out of random events. We can’t stop ourselves from looking at the world with a causal lens. This happened because that happened. And often times it is the correct explanation. But quite often it also isn’t.

I’ll talk more about entropy some other time. Until then.

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Cheers! See you soon.

  1. As far as we understand these things… ↩︎

Last modified: Mar 06, 2022